National Breastfeeding Month

August in National Breastfeeding Month. This is a topic that had been taboo in the U.S. for many years. However, in 2011, the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) set aside this month to empower women and educate the public on benefits of breastfeeding.

Babies who are breastfed have many health advantages over non-breastfed babies. Studies have shown that babies who are breastfed have fewer ear infections, a lower risk for asthma, and even a higher IQ.

Overall, babies who are breastfed have been found to be healthier. “The incidences of pneumonia, colds and viruses are reduced among breastfed babies,” says infant-nutrition expert Ruth A. Lawrence, M.D., a professor of pediatrics and OB-GYN at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, N.Y., and the author of Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession (Elsevier-Mosby).

The benefits even extend beyond infancy. Breastfeeding can reduce the child’s risk of developing chronic conditions, like type I diabetes and celiac disease. Children who were breastfed as babies are also found to have a decreased risk of childhood cancer.

Breastfeeding doesn’t just benefit the baby, there are many positive effects for mothers, as well.

Women who breastfeed are found to have stronger bones and a lower risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer. Additionally, women studied have had fewer problems with weight, in large part because breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories a day.

Finally, if you want to make the world a better place for you and your child, consider breastfeeding for environmental reasons. Dairy cows, which are raised in part to make infant formula, are a significant contributor to global warming. Cows are one of the planet’s largest producers of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Breastfeeding will help reduce the amount of methane that is being spewed into the air, making the world a healthier place for us all.